Cyanogen announced today that it has raised $80 million in a Series C funding round from investors including Twitter, Qualcomm, Telefónica, Smartfren Telecom, Index Ventures, Rupert Murdoch, and several yet to be announced partners. Existing investors Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, and Tencent Holdings Ltd. also participated.
Rumors have been circulating for the past couple months that the Android OS maker was raising capital with the goal of offering serious competition to Google’s dominance in Android, and it looks like the rumors were true – mostly.
The one name everyone was most interested in hearing, Microsoft, wasn’t mentioned today, but the press release does leave open the possibility that it could be named later.
Launched in 2009, Cyanogen is the main developer behind the open source Android OS, CyanogenMod. That OS has been independently ported to many Android devices, and it has also had some small market success on commercially released smartphones, most notably the OnePlus One and the MicroMax Yu Eureka.
Over the past few years Cyanogen has been moving to release a commercial version of its Android OS firmware. The company has now raised a total of $110 million, and it employs around 80 people in two offices in Seattle and Silicon Valley.
Cyanogen has bold ambitions of competing with Google. “We’re committed to creating an open computing platform that fundamentally empowers the entire mobile ecosystem from developers to hardware makers, and most importantly, consumers around the world,” Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen, said in a statment.
Cyanogen now has financial backing from a chipmaker, two different telecoms, a US-based telecom conglomerate, and Rupert Murdoch. That’s not a broad enough base of support to offer a real challenge to Google (not yet) but it is a start in the right direction.